Psychotherapy is a set of unique methods and techniques for psychological intervention that are based on the principles, constructs and methods of the science of psychology (Wittchen, Härtling, & Hoyer, 2015). The goal of psychotherapy is preventing, treating and rehabilitating dysfunctional behaviour and mental disorders and therefore provides a wealth of knowledge regarding psychological health and the psychological interventions that can help protect it. A theory of Psychotherapy acts as a roadmap for psychologists as it guides them through the process of understanding clients and their problems and developing the necessary solution. Approaches to psychotherapy generally fall into 5 broad categories. The following examples briefly outline some of the most commonly used psychotherapies:Behavioural therapy: Behavioural therapy seeks to identify and help alter potentially self-destructive and/or unhealthy behaviours. This therapy is based on the premise that behaviours are learned, therefore unhealthy behaviours can be ‘unlearned’ (changed). The treatment normally focuses on current problems and how they can be changed as opposed to looking back to the past.
This type of therapy is therefore best used with those looking to change their behaviour – for example sufferers of addiction or those with a phobia, panic disorders, eating disorders just to name a few. This types of therapy has also been used amongst children. A central part of the therapy for children involves rewarding positive behaviour and punishing negative behaviour. Children with autism and ADHD often benefit from this type of therapy. Cognitive therapy (CT): The principle upon which cognitive therapy is based is that cognition profoundly influences emotions and behaviours and therefore contributes to the maintenance of psychopathology.
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This model predicts that changes in cognitions causally lead to changes in behaviours and emotions. The techniques employed looks to address any skewed ways of thinking that may be occurring, and eventually aims to replace them with healthier, more positive thought patterns. Research has shown that CT is an effective treatment for a range of psychopathology including GAD, SAD, PTSD, panic disorder, childhood depressive & anxiety disorders and chronic pain (Hofmann, Asmundson, & Beck, 2013)Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy: MBCT is a recent psychotherapeutic intervention developed by Segal, Teasdale & Williams (2002) with the main purpose of prevention of recurrence of Major Depressive Episodes. It belongs to the group of cognitive therapies which assert that maladaptive thinking patterns play a causal role in inducing and maintaining depressive episodes. Mindfulness refers to a process that leads to a mental state characterized by non-judgmental awareness of the present moment experience including ones sensations, thoughts and bodily states. MBCT is based on the premise that higher cognitive reactivity (describes how easily depressed mood can activate depressive thinking patterns (Beck, 2008)) makes previously depressed patients vulnerable to relapse. MCBT teaches patients skills such as meditation and other mindfulness exercises (e.
g. certain breathing techniques). These skills prevent individuals being caught up in a new depressive spiral. The individual is equipped with the tools that are needed to help them replace negative thought patterns with positive thought patterns. MBCT has shown to reduce depressive symptoms in currently depressed patients.
A small number of studies have also suggested that it can have positive effects on patients who have been found to be resistant to established forms of treatment. However, it must be recognised that often studies are based on uncontrolled pre–post-comparisons.Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): CBT blend techniques that are emphasized in behavioural therapies (BTs) and cognitive therapies (CTs). It was pioneered by Aaron T. Beck in the 1960’s and is a form of psychotherapy focused on the ‘here and now’ which is based on the assumed interaction between our emotions, cognitions (mental events including thoughts, memories, images, etc.), and our behaviours. CBT aims to promote change by helping an individual to understand and then alter the way they think, and/or the things they do, leading to indirect changes in the way they feel. Focusing on the present, CBT is a practical therapy that aims to break down problems into smaller, more manageable issues.
This therapy is especially useful for those with more specific problems as it addresses each emotion separately. CBT actively engages patients throughout all stages of the structured therapy, requiring a strong collaborative bond between the patient and therapist. CBT can be used to treat a wide range of disorders; for example- anxiety, depression, childhood trauma, insomnia, personality disorders, relationship distress and alcohol ; cannabis dependency. The evidence base of CBT is enormous as research has demonstrated that it is an effective form of psychotherapy in treating many psychological problems, especially anxiety disorders (Hofmann et al., 2012). Acceptance ; Commitment Therapy: Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) stems from traditional behaviour therapy and CBT and is an action-oriented approach to psychotherapy.
Clients are thought to stop avoiding, denying, and struggling with their inner emotions. Instead they are thought that accepting these deeper feelings are appropriate responses to certain situations in their lives. With this understanding, clients begin to accept their issues and hardships and commit to making necessary changes in their behaviour, regardless of what is going on in their lives, and how they feel about it. Evidence suggests that the ACT model is effective across a broad range of problems, and across a range of severity from psychosis to interventions for non-clinical populations (e.g., worksite stress interventions) (Hayes et al., 2006).
Psychoanalysis ; Psychodynamic Therapies: The therapy utilises and alternative approach to behavioural and cognitive therapies as it perceives our thoughts to be out of our conscious control. It focuses on changing problematic behaviours, feelings, and thoughts by discovering their unconscious meanings and motivations. This therapy is based on the premise that any psychological issues stem from childhood and need to be addressed in order to be resolved Psychoanalytically oriented therapies involve a close working partnership between therapist and patient. Patients reveal information about themselves by examining their interactions in the therapeutic relationship. Psychoanalysis is closely identified with Sigmund Freud, however, it methods and techniques have been extended since his early formulations. Free Association: A simple technique in which a patient talks of whatever comes into their mind.
This technique involves a therapist reading a list of words and the patient immediately responds with the first word that comes to mindDream Analysis: The ‘royal road to the unconscious’. The unconscious mind is like a censor but is less vigilant when we are asleep. As a result, repressed ideas come to the surface. There is need to distinguish between the manifest content (what we remember) and the latent content (what it really means) of a dream.
Interpretation of Freudian Slips: An unintentional error regarded as revealing subconscious feelings. Humanistic therapy: is often regarded as a positive approach to psychotherapy as rather than people who have similar characteristics as having the same problem, it focuses on a person’s individual nature. It looks upon a person as a whole and aims to focus on their positive traits and behaviours by encouraging self-exploration.
Humanistic therapy is used to treat a wide range of disorders such as depression, panic disorders, personality disorders, anxiety, schizophrenia, addiction, and relationship issues, including family relationships. This type of therapy may also benefit people who have low self-esteem or have a feeling of lack of ‘wholeness’ and are searching for personal meaning. Therapies that fall under this umbrella include; Gestalt therapy: Aids individuals in focusing on the present and understanding what is occurring in their lives right now. It emphasises the importance of awareness and responsibility of oneself. Client-cantered therapy: this is a non-directive therapy whereby the individual leads the discussion and the therapist does not try to turn the discussion in a certain direction. Unconditional positive regard is emphasised as the therapist exhibits complete acceptance and support for the individual.
Existential therapy: focuses on self-determination, free will and an individual’s search for meaning.Integrative: Integrative therapy is a form of psychotherapy that fits the needs of than individual client by combining different therapeutic approaches and tools. Therapists utilise their knowledge regarding normal human development, and in turn modify standard treatments to fill in development gaps that affect each individual in different ways.
This means that therapists don’t tie themselves to any one approach. Instead, they blend elements from different psychotherapeutic approaches and in turn alter their treatment according to each individual’s needs.